I started this rant as a conceptual Thank You / Review Page for two of my favourite iPhone games (Auralux & neoDefense, so thanks for making those free demos, guys). But long term, it will likely hold more personal value as a forward looking personal Game-Play Bucket List of sorts.
I like winning. I do not deny it. This is the part of Auralux I like the best: the complete domination of the board by my team (in blue).
There are two main strategies (or at least, two that I know of) key to winning at Auralux.
The first is realizing that it is just as easy to kill Double & Triple Stars as it is to kill Single Stars.
The second is realizing that one can attack from outside of the standard star lanes... and then, doing so when appropriate.
The first image (on the left) shows the standard expansion, blue at top, expanding to either side, while orange and green attack each other at the bottom center.
Rather than go through the line (around the circumference of the circle), simply attack orange's (and then, green's) Triple Stars. It's a major blow to their infrastructure. And from there, Galactic Conquest is a fate accompli.
It's also prudent to avoid heavily contested stars: either in traffic lanes or the center. On this map, the center stars will be attacked over and over again. But bypassing those and taking control of the outskirts assures victory... painlessly and easily.
I've loaded and unloaded Auralux countless times on my iPhone (if three or four times counts as countless). It's a solid game... in that I enjoy passing time with it. But it's downfall is that it is painfully easy to beat. The computer controlled opponents consistently apply the same tactics (even if the exact target is seemingly randomly chosen) and they never (ever-ever-ever) attack out of lines.
So, it's not a thinking man's game at all.
And as such, I can't justify buying the upgrade. Though, I would like to take this moment to thank the people responsible for its creation and distribution. I have wasted many an hour with the free version of this game... though, pastime seems like a more appropriate moniker (than game), as it is a lot like shooting fish in a barrel.
I find neoDefense to be stupid easy. It is not a challenge in the least. But for whatever reason (the total absence of thought, I'm thinking), I find it soothing, nonetheless.
I mean it's possible to loose. But a person has to really try.
The photos above show me 'owning' the final wave without bothering to be insightful at all in the placement of my towers. And in fact, in my third play-through (or so), I maxed out the possible high score (achieved by killing the targets as close to the spawn point as possible).
When I play now, I place my towers in 'pleasing arrangements' (whatever that means), just sort of enjoying the flow of the game.
I downloaded this title (along with Auralux) specifically to take screen shots for use with this thank you page. Originally (I believe) this particular game was called geoDefense (though I could be wrong) and was much better before they revised it (if in fact it is the same game by the same folks).
Either way (or whatever the case), I find both Auralux and neoDefense to be amazingly soothing. So, in that regard, they are masterpieces. But they aren't really challenging... anymore than beating up some random toddler on the street would be a challenge.
Thus, I am quite hesitant to call either a game: so if not pastimes (I hate to be redundant), call them diversions.
Anyhow, thanks for making these games, guys. I'm not your market demographic, as I was likely never going to buy the full version, as I have yet to buy a single app from Apple. But having 'played' the trial version, I would be surprised to learn there is a meaningful conversion rate. Of course, all sorts of things surprise me (the continued popularity of FaceBook and Instagram to name just two), so don't worry about my incredulity too much.
Bottom line, I have enjoyed these games.
I continue to enjoy these games.
And as such, I would like to thank you for making them free.
And yes, there is so much free stuff out there, it's sort of hard for me to imagine paying (top dollar or otherwise) for nearly anything.
High School Story
I include mention of High School Story as an after thought and honourable mention of sorts. I cannot see ever playing High School Story again. As it is not really a game, but more of a linear text based adventure with precious few narrative forks. But at one time, I had several hundred hours into it. And was opening the app (on my iPhone, once again) on a daily basis. So, it held some appeal. Unfortunately (or quite fortunately), I cannot foresee the day when working my way through the 'story' once again will be worth the while. My grandmother used to do word search puzzles. I did High School Story.
What Games May Come
Who knows the future? Not I. So often have my predictions been wrong (like really-really wrong) that for the most, I have given up the pastime. Still, the following games look interesting. And even though I have no interest in playing them today (well, OK, not none or they would have never made the list), I think it highly likely someday I shall. They are listed in the likely order of play, which has a lot more to do with the current price of the game on the open market than anything else. But why play today what can be had at bargain bin pricing only a few years hence? And in fact, had I the interest only a few years back, I likely could have (legally, I do believe) acquired a copy of the first for free. My how times change.
Master of Orion
First of all, Master of Orion is now very inexpensive. Had I shown an interest in it ten years ago, I likely could have downloaded a copy free, as abandonware. As it is, I think it's going for $5.99 or so. So, dirt cheap. Anyway, Master of Orion is continually heralded as one of the great strategy games of all time. So, when I tire of CIV IV, I expect to pick up a copy of it. Until then, it rots on this list.
Galactic Civilizations II
Galactic Civilizations II (with all it's expansion packs) is now worth (maybe) $20. It looks to be as deep as CIV IV. And time and time again, it makes those Top 100 lists. On the other hand, the price will only go down with time, as that is the nature of these things. And as I have no desire to play today, it's purchase will have to wait another year.
Crusader Kings II
Crusader Kings II is the new kid on the block. And, really, the last game on my To Play list. Um, but E-gads! I think the current pricing on a complete set of Crusader Kings II is in the... well, I hate to guess. Full retail (with all the expansions), we are talking +/- $500. And even on sale... I don't know, I forget. I have a hard time imagining they were willing to sell it for $50, so I think the current pricing is $150... and that likely includes DRM (Digital Rights Management) restrictions. So, I'm going to wait the decade until I pursue this. Anyhow, it looks really cool.
I guess I haven't really explained why these three (and only these three) made the list, so let me try to do that. They are all of the genre I like: strategy. They are thinking games, with no time pressure. And time and time again, they have received favourable reviews. Or in other words, they are the best of the best of the type of game I like to play. And at this point, I only have time for the best.
So when I tire of my deep dive into CIV IV and loathe the thought of starting, yet, another game, I expect to try one (or more) of these titles... likely in the order listed. But as I have yet to seriously consider the MODs or alternative AI Engines for CIV IV, I think I have a ways to go yet.
Fact is: I want to get to the point where the AI in CIV IV seems as simple and inane as it does in Auralux and neoDefense. And though that day may be close at hand, I am not there, yet.
© copyright 2018 Brett Paufler